An Israeli woman who was sentenced to life in prison for murdering her abusive husband was released from jail Thursday, after serving 18 years behind bars.
“I’m very excited and I want to thank everyone who supported and helped me,” Dalal Daoud told reporters outside the Ramle prison.
“I missed my family and children so very much, I have been waiting for this day,” she said. “The only thing that I’m feeling right now is excitement.”
A prison parole board authorized Daoud’s early release on Wednesday at the recommendation of the State Attorney’s Office and the Committee for the Prevention of Domestic Violence.
The Justice Ministry said Daoud was granted early release due to her successful completion of therapy and rehabilitation programs offered at the prison.
Daoud’s attorney told the Ynet news site that her client was in good health, and was thrilled the parole board agreed to her early release after several years of trying.
“We believed this would happen a long time ago, but unfortunately, each time [we hoped for it] it was delayed,” Revital Ben Shabbat said. “Dalal is ready for her new life, and the prison’s therapists and rehab professionals are going to help her find a job.”
“Yes there will be challenges…. but slowly she’ll be able to return to society,” Ben Shabbat added.
In 2017 President Reuven Rivlin commuted Daoud’s life term, which in Israel is limited to 25 years, but later that year the parole board at the Neve Tirtza Women’s Detention Center rejected her early release, saying she needed additional rehabilitation.
During her trial, Daoud’s attorneys told the court that her husband regularly beat, raped and kept her chained when she was home alone because he thought she was being unfaithful to him. The defense also noted that Daoud had filed numerous police complaints against her husband, and had been hospitalized several times with injuries as a result of his beatings and from at least one suicide attempt.
At a demonstration Wednesday outside the Ramle court where the Israel Prisons Service Parole Board was meeting, supporters called for her release, saying authorities had to do more to stop domestic violence.
“Dalal Daoud is not a murderer, but a victim of violence who decided to fight for her life,” Knesset member Ofer Cassif (Hadash-Ta’al) told Channel 12 news, saying that despite 26 complaints filed with police against her husband “no one defended her, and now she is the one who pays too much for defending herself.”
“What else needs to happen for law enforcement authorities to take complaints about domestic violence seriously?” Cassif said.
In January 1997, days after Daoud gave birth to the couple’s youngest son, her husband flew into a violent rage, claiming she was having an affair with his brother. He beat her and threatened to rape her in front of the couple’s young children.
Daoud managed to calm him down by giving him a number of sleeping pills, and after he fell asleep, she covered him completely with several blankets. Daoud’s husband suffocated overnight, and in the morning she disposed of his body with the help of a family friend.
“He was a good man, but when he saw something not good he went crazy,” Daoud said in a 2017 TV interview from inside the prison.
“I suffered a lot,” Daoud said. “The suffering that is biggest is leaving the children. I left a four-year-old boy and a seven-year-old girl.
“When I go to see my daughter as a woman, maybe with children, and I wasn’t with them for their childhood … that is the biggest pain I have.”